Nathan: God’s Messenger to David
2nd Samuel 7; 2nd Samuel 12
In my last devotional I mentioned the prophet Nathan’s role in the story of David and Solomon. The name “Nathan” actually means “gift” in the original language of the Old Testament (Hebrew). Nathan was just that in David’s life—he was one of God’s gifts to David.
I think all of us should pray for a “Nathan” in our life—a true friend who can help us in our spiritual journey. Let’s look at Nathan’s role in the life of David:
Nathan was a voice of guidance:
2nd Samuel 7
8″Now then, tell my servant David, ‘This is what the LORD Almighty says: . . . 12 When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name . . .
David had set in his heart to build a temple for God. While David had the best of intentions, it simply was not God’s plan. Nathan explained that God had something else in mind. David wisely and graciously accepted this word from God.
I believe that God usually speaks to a Christian directly through His word. We should never completely depend on another human being for direction. A godly friend or advisor, however, can be a great help in discerning God’s will. This kind of person can help shed new light on a decision and may help you to better understand the character of God.
Nathan was a voice of blessing and encouragement:
2nd Samuel 7
8″Now then, tell my servant David, ‘This is what the LORD Almighty says: . . . 16 Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’ “
What an incredible promise from the Lord! What an honor it was for Nathan to be the chosen messenger for this promise! Not only did Nathan guide, he blessed and encouraged. Think of how David must have felt after hearing this promise from the Lord.
The word “encourage” means “to inspire courage.” All of us desperately need this—some of us get far too little of it, some of us do far too little of it. The Bible is full of blessings and promises for God’s people. A godly friend will speak these to us and remind us of them.
Proverbs 16:24 says “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”
Even simple, short messages of encouragement from a friend can inspire us.
Nathan was a voice of rebuke:
2nd Samuel 12
“1 The LORD sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said . . . 9 Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes? . . . 13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.”
Not everything Nathan had to say was pleasant. David had committed adultery with Bathsheba and murdered her husband—God was greatly displeased. Nathan communicated this to David in an incredibly clever way (read 2nd Samuel 12 to see Nathan’s parable). David’s eyes were opened to his own wickedness.
Just like David, all of us have “blind spots”—negative parts of our life or character that we cannot see. We need others to point out these “blind spots,” and a true friend will do this. A true friend will love us enough to tell us the truth, even at the risk of hurting our feelings. Proverbs 27:6 says “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” I believe that a loving rebuke is one of the highest forms of love that one person can express to another.
Nathan was a voice of grace and forgiveness:
2nd Samuel 12
24 Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and he went to her and lay with her. She gave birth to a son, and they named him Solomon. The LORD loved him; 25 and because the LORD loved him, he sent word through Nathan the prophet to name him Jedidiah.
“Jedidiah” means “loved by the Lord.” David had sinned and would suffer the consequences, but God had forgiven him. God even chose Bathsheba’s son to be the next king of Israel. God used Nathan to send a message of forgiveness.
A true friend can help us to experience God’s forgiveness and restoration. Such a friend may tell you of his/her own failures so you will know you are not alone in your struggles. More importantly, a friend will remind us of God’s promises of forgiveness found in Scripture.
Do you have a friend like this?
I hope all of you have at least one “Nathan” in your life—a good, godly friend who inspires you to be more like Christ. One who is positive and encouraging, but painfully honest. If you do not have a friend like this, ask God to help you find one. You may need to take steps such as getting involved in church or Bible study (that’s where a “Nathan” is more likely to hang out). Such friends have been some of the greatest blessings in my Christian walk.
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